January 22nd, 2012
06:12 PM ET
3 years ago

Santorum brushes off S.C., takes on Iran in Florida

Coral Springs, Florida (CNN) - Trying to brush off his third-place finish in South Carolina on Saturday, Rick Santorum went straight to Florida on Sunday in search of momentum.

Newt Gingrich's strong win in the Palmetto State was something of an equalizer, Santorum argued, emphasizing the importance of the January 31 primary here in the Sunshine State.

Before a crowd of more than 150 people – and 20 or so vocal Ron Paul supporters – Santorum said that the contests won by his opponents were races they should have won, because they were competing so close to their homes.

"We've had three races, one in Romney's backyard in the state of New Hampshire," he began, describing the former Massachusetts governor's many connections to the Granite State. "Last night, we had a race in South Carolina. Right across the border from where Newt Gingrich was, and pretty much his backyard and where he staked his claim. And they were able to win in their backyard."

Santorum said his win in Iowa was more significant.

"There was one race that was in nobody's backyard," he said. "There was one race where you had to go out and on a level playing field compete and we won that race."

Now the race is in Florida, which has a diverse Republican electorate.

Santorum tried to walk a political tightrope Sunday when describing his record.

Calling himself a "conservative firebrand" and "the person conservatives went to" for help in the U.S. Senate, Santorum also tried to argue that he's got the best chance of appealing to blue-collar, moderate voters in key swing states.

"There are about 10 or 12 states where this election is going to be won or lost," Santorum said. "And we need to look at the three candidates and say who has the ability to go up toe-to-toe with Barack Obama in the states that matter. Let's just be honest. South Carolina is not a swing state in a general election."

Speaking in one of the country's biggest swing states, Santorum directed voters to look at the race from that perspective. Dismissing Paul's candidacy almost entirely, he said that of the three remaining viable candidates, Santorum said that he would be the most competitive.

The mood at the afternoon rally was kept light by the occasional musical interjection of a local Tea Party band, but Santorum nonetheless shifted to more serious foreign policy topics such as Iran toward the end of his remarks.

"If we reach a point where I believe the only thing that will stop them from this program being realized and having a nuclear weapon - I will make a clear declaration to the Iranian government that you either open your facilities, you begin to dismantle this nuclear program, or we will dismantle it for you," Santorum told the crowd to much applause. He then argued that acquiring a nuclear weapon would allow Iran "carte blanche to spread a reign of terror around not just the Middle East, but here in America, here in Florida, here across western civilization."

Quickly dismissing the idea that such aggression would be an act of war, Santorum said it would be justified, comparing the Iranian government to the terrorist organization al Qaeda.

"They're just as radical as the people who run al Qaeda - their theology is identical. Again different strengths, but identical in their fundamentalist, Jihadist version of Islam," Santorum said. "We cannot allow the equivalent of al Qaeda to have this weapon."


Filed under: 2012 • Florida • Rick Santorum
soundoff (100 Responses)
  1. GI Joe

    Santorum is not even qualified to be a senator - how is he qualified to be the Commander in Chief?

    His hypocricy?

    January 23, 2012 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  2. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Another Republican Chicken-Hawk calling on Americans to do something that he was loath to do.

    January 23, 2012 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  3. TB

    War=government spending. Tea Party Republicans seem to like and applaud government spending if and when it has to do with war.

    January 23, 2012 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  4. mw

    Atta boy, Ricky, let's attack another country for something they MIGHT do!

    January 23, 2012 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  5. clarinet

    C'mon, Santorum, get out of the race. Your self-interest in continuing reminds me of why you lost your PA senate seat, voters realized you were a dweeb.

    January 23, 2012 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  6. Rob1961

    Another war from a Republican presidential wanna-be. Haven't we had enough of war-mongering without any regard to the financial impact (how about the deficit after another one) and most importantly the human impact on our armed forces. We can't elect him or anyone else that believes in gun-boat foreign policy.

    January 23, 2012 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  7. clarinet

    C'mon, Santorum, get out of the race. Your self-promotion in continuing reminds me of why you lost your PA senate seat.

    January 23, 2012 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  8. Brian

    Another Pro-Israel shill......bought and paid for. AIPAC should be classified as a Terrorist Organization. God help us if this clown is elected. It would be war after war....all for Israel.

    January 23, 2012 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  9. needNewGov

    I'm sorry Rick but you are soooo way out there on violence and oppressing people. To attack another country because they might do something in the future is war, clear and simple. Bye Bye Rickie!

    January 23, 2012 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  10. sensible

    Proves he is not ready to be president.....it's not that simple! The whole region would be fighting us, not just Iran. They are all connected by Islam and we would be seen as 'crusaders'!

    January 23, 2012 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  11. Jay

    nice rhetoric!

    January 23, 2012 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  12. Barry Burnette

    Rick is the best choice. Understand that there will only be 3 debates with Obama and the Media will not give you three hours...

    January 23, 2012 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  13. rob

    Just what we need: another war hungry Republican in the White House. Hopefully the idiots that applauded this guy's declaration of war are not the majority of the Republican base.

    In the debates he seems very angry, and seems to have a chip on his shoulder. The thought of him as president scares me.

    January 23, 2012 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  14. mario

    Mr santorum I totally agree with your position even if we dissagre in everything else

    January 23, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  15. Really?!?

    Rick, there is 4 candidates in this race. As a Ron Paul supporter, I would have considered voting for you in the PA primary (your backyard). No more, it is a shame how Ron Paul gets dismissed by the media and the other candidates. Ron Paul supports should unite and not support the Republican Party nominee. I will be writting in Ron Paul's name in the general election in November.

    January 23, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  16. Ahmadeenejad

    I am sure the Iranian Republican Guard is shaking in their boots now that they are in the cross hairs of Mr San San Santorum. He, Santorum , must be careful too, they don't take too well to christian/ catholic fundamentalist. These monotheistic religions don't like the competition, in fact, can't allow any competition. That invalidates their claims of 'uniqueness'. Awwww.

    January 23, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  17. Enough is Enough

    I agree that Iran should not get the bomb, but we blindly support Israel which is also a terrorist state with nukes. Al Qaeda's best recruiting tool is Isreal's ever expanding settlements that we pay for, how many more U.S. soldiers are in body bags because of Israel.

    January 23, 2012 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  18. Buster Bloodvessel

    I think Santorum is being financed by L. Ron Paul just to make Paul look less crazy by comparison. The GOP has run its well dry and is pumping up mud and sand now.

    January 23, 2012 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  19. Pat in IL

    Listening to anything he has to say about foreign policy would be like listening to Madonna about brain surgery.

    January 23, 2012 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  20. Seattle Sue

    Mr. Santorum, Are you planning to use nuclear weapons against Iran?

    January 23, 2012 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  21. NoTags

    If Santorum was elected we would absolutely go to war with Iran. He wants to make a preemptive strike on Iran because he believe's Iran wants to start a nuclear war in order to bring forth the return of their 12th Imam, Mohammed al-Mahdi.

    January 23, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  22. jpmichigan

    Santum is making himself to perfect a candidate, which is troubling to me. Gingrich has faults and he acknowledges them. Romney does the fuzzy math component, just like Obama when it comes to job creation. Many of the jobs Romney states he created, happen by other people years after he left Bain, pursuing a government job of sorts ( governor, ran for the senate and now twice for President). I bet he still collects income from his Bain investments, after all that really is the goal of investment companies, according to investors.

    January 23, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  23. Phil in KC

    I guess he didn't have a VanderPlaats telling the faithful to vote for him in SC. Quite frankly, I hope he takes enough votes from Gingrich to split Florida. I want to see this thing go all the way to the convention. I just can't believe all the 'values' voters who voted for Gingrich, given his history – not just the marital infidelity, but the ethics violations.
    Also – Gingrich has now labelled himself a "progressive conservative". Those terms are mutually exclusive. You can't be a conservative and be a progressive. If nothing else, look them up in the dictionary.

    January 23, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  24. John

    That the Trouble with Republican they all way want to send are kid to war. But you never see any of there kid In the war they send America to fight. If they really believe It the right thing to do ,than have there son or daughter In first.

    January 23, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  25. Puddin

    Santorum seems like a regular guy and is the only sane one of the bunch. Romney and Gingrich benefit from name recognition, but their names are recognized not necessarily for the for the good they have done. People, think about it, do we really want an opportunist in the White House, or someone who wants to be there to improve life for the average American. Think carefully; name recognition is not all that important.

    January 23, 2012 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
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